global higher education
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Global Perspectives on Higher Education
Date Reviewed: November 30, -0001
This sprawling volume, which incorporates co-written essays alongside those written by the main author, focuses on several themes in global higher education in the last half century, including massification, systemic inequalities, and the hegemonic role of English. Key areas where higher education has changed significantly include Asia, India, and Latin America; Africa still lags behind in many ways. The book is organized in five major sections: “The Global Context”; “The Implications of Globalization”; “Centers and Peripheries”; “Comparative Perspectives”; and “Teachers and Students.” This review will focus mostly on the final section as most relevant to the readership of this online publication.
The authors aim high in their goal of surveying the landscape of rapidly globalizing higher education over fifty or so years. The first few chapters provide a modicum of historical perspective on higher education and go on to examine the most recent “revolution” in higher education through four interrelated forces: “mass higher education, globalization, the advent of the knowledge society and the importance of research universities in it, and information technology” (16). The author(s) note that these forces have fed the growth of privatization, international rankings, and burdensome systems of assessment, among other developments. The essays in the following sections focus in different and sometimes overlapping ways on those themes, noting that the recent internationalization of universities is a necessary response to increased globalization. Anyone who works in higher education would come away with a better general understanding, if not an in-depth knowledge, of trends in higher education after reading these chapters. Depending on the topic, Altbach and his occasional co-authors provide few citations for their claims; for instance, the chapter on “The Globalization of Rankings” includes just one reference, to an essay by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker. Consequently, this volume will be of limited use for those wishing to pursue their own research in these areas.
The final section (Chapters Seventeen and Eighteen) is titled “Teachers and Students,” but it is more accurately about the ways academic work is contracted for and compensated as well as reasons for student political activism. Both topics yield slippery data, so both chapters seem more tentative than definitive. It is clear from the data that they do use that disparities in remuneration and opportunity are widespread across academia worldwide. It is also clear that nobody truly understands the driving forces behind student activism except in certain local cases. Neither chapter addresses issues related to curriculum or pedagogy as they focus more on broader institutional and bureaucratic issues. This is perhaps necessary given the broad sweep of this book overall, but it also means that this book will be of less use to readers of this journal than one more focused on actual classrooms and pedagogical continuities and changes around the world. Despite this, readers looking for an overview of the ways globalization has driven the internationalization of higher education will appreciate the broad sweep of this volume.
The Balancing Act: International Higher Education in the 21st Century
Date Reviewed: November 30, -0001
What can teachers of theology and religion learn from a text on contemporary global education? Moreover, “If our world is constantly changing, particularly with globalization, how can educators support the nature of change through curriculum, teaching, and learning, particularly in international contexts” (30)? Mary Gene Saudelli, a Canadian educator with a rich background of teaching abroad, highlights the significance of contextual considerations in twenty-first century teaching and learning through this case study of nineteen international educators at Dubai Women’s College in the United Arab Emirates. Within the pluralistic context of many of our classrooms, as well as the increased emphasis on internationalization in many of our institutions, theological and religious educators will benefit from Saudelli’s insightful analysis of contemporary educational theory and curriculum through a global lens.
Divided into three modules, the first describes the context of the study along with a discussion of contemporary theories of adult learning, including sociology of education and change theories. Module 2 presents the international educators, the Emirati learners, and the curriculum. And Module 3 explores issues within the learning context: religion, culture, society, and language. Finally, a brief conclusion captures salient lessons learned from this case study with application to twenty-first century curriculum design.
Saudelli’s analysis of contemporary learning theories in light of the global educational context is of particular significance as it represents the integrative thinking that is essential for our thinking and practice in culturally-responsive theological education. For example, she examines Knowles’ work on andragogy and Mezirow’s transformative learning theory from an international and intercultural perspective, indicating the implicit Western individualistic bias that undergirds these approaches to learning. Moreover, values such as empowerment or emancipation, lauded in contemporary adult education scholarship, may look quite different through the lens of a more restrictive Arab context.
Saudelli’s description of twenty-first century learning and its implications for curriculum design is another helpful discussion. In her words, twenty-first century teaching and learning refers to “an orientation that recognizes the incredible change that has been ushered in by virtue of a dramatic technological evolution and advancements, globalization and cross-national migration of both people and information, and intense shifting of educational needs” (63). Such curriculum is interdisciplinary, experiential, balanced, and interconnected with both local and global contexts (63ff). Moreover, its design supports the development of key skills that students require to be equipped to address the opportunities and challenges in our ever-changing world. It may be instructive to consider how these criteria could contribute to shaping theological and religious studies within our own educational institutions.
The section on faith is somewhat brief, especially given the enormous impact that religion has in the context of this study, the Arab world. And while the author does reference epistemological differences in the conclusion (179), a more robust discussion as to their significance for global education would be a welcome addition to her otherwise helpful synopsis in the final chapter.
Thus, while the particulars of this case study may be unique, the author suggests that the text can be useful, “as a way to think about how we approach internationalization in education” (12). Moreover, its fresh perspective on curriculum and educational theory through a global lens is one that is worthy of consideration for contemporary theological educators.
Internationalizing Higher Education: Critical Collaborations across the Curriculum
Date Reviewed: November 30, -0001
This collection showcases a wide range of approaches to the problems and promises of internationalizing higher education in meaningful and sustainable ways. The essays recognize that these efforts take place in a rapidly changing world, with new technologies and changes in funding and student enrollment patterns affecting efforts to internationalize curricula and campuses. In recognizing these systemic issues, the editors and authors note that many internationalization efforts are undertaken on an ad hoc or case-by-case basis with little effort to systematize and broaden support for internationalization initiatives. These essays together aim to “investigate, to better understand, and to inform intercultural pedagogy that supports the development of mindful global citizenship” (xii). One of the salient findings of the collection is that successful efforts tend to embrace uncertainty rather than tight strictures and rules. Another is that institutional support is necessary for any internationalization efforts to permeate campuses and become integral parts of undergraduate experience.
Authors from across the globe and from very different institutional contexts contributed to this volume, with the University of Minnesota very well represented. The book is helpfully divided into three sections. The first, “Mindful Global Citizenship: Critical Concepts and Current Contexts” takes a bird’s-eye view of undergraduate education through the lens of internationalization. The second section, “Developing Intercultural Programs and Practitioners,” focuses more on faculty development and institutional infrastructure that can support internationalization. The third section, “Critical Reflections from Across the Curriculum,” focuses more narrowly on particular disciplines or courses with faculty development and graduate education in the mix. This section provides insight into the ways courses and curricula integrate internationalization in varying ways, and these essays provide the most detail about course and classroom experience.
The most relevant essays for readers of this journal are in this third section. These include Solheim et al.’s “Illuminating a Course Transformation Journey”; Gibson et al.’s “Social Media and Intercultural Competence: Using Each to Explore the Other”; Hammell et al.’s “On Becoming a Global Citizen: Critical Pedagogy and Crossing Borders in and out of the University Classroom”; and Jackson’s “ ‘Unpacking’ International Experience through Blended Intercultural Praxis.” Each of these essays relies on meaningful data (mostly qualitative) and contains sufficient detail about process and product to make some of their work replicable. Each also embraces a call to reflection, which helps each essay feel more complete. Perhaps most valuable here is the recognition that internationalization does not just mean study abroad or international student exchange. Rather, internationalization can happen through, for instance, social media, films, and learning communities on campus. In short, internationalization can be anywhere and everywhere.
Overall, the essays in this collection are of varying quality, and several contain grammatical or typographical errors. That aside, the subject matter is likely appealing to many who teach religious studies or theology in higher education, as international perspectives are often the bread and butter of classroom experience. This book will appeal most particularly to those who are interested in building programs or courses that intersect with institutional internationalization efforts.